London’s top-flight index paused for breath after a heady rise in the previous session when European markets rocketed in response to the French presidential election race.
The FTSE 100 Index rose 10.96 points to 7,275.64, after adding more than £30 billion to blue-chip stocks in the prior day’s trading when investors priced in the prospect of Emmanuel Macron becoming the next president of France.
Heavyweight financial firms continued to benefit from French election cheer, with Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays rising 4.1p to 253.4p and 3.6p to 222.8p respectively.
On the currency markets, the pound pushed higher against the US dollar after an update on the UK’s public finances showed government borrowing hit its lowest level in nearly a decade.
Sterling rose 0.4 per cent versus the greenback at $1.28, as the latest figures also revealed that Chancellor Philip Hammond had marginally overshot his independent target for shoring up public finances. The Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing, excluding banks, dropped by £20bn to £52bn for the financial year to date from 12 months before.
Challenger bank Virgin Money jumped 2.2p to 325.3p despite seeing a 4.8 per cent drop in gross mortgage lending to £2bn in the first quarter.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index included Hikma Pharmaceuticals up 63p to 1,905p, Glencore up 6.7p to 312.2p and Royal Bank of Scotland up 4.1p to 253.4p.
The biggest fallers included Kingfisher down 10.8p to 326.4p, Randgold Resources down 185p to 6,785p and Associated British Foods down 64p to 2,815p.